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Detention of children


If you are between the ages of 12 and 17, there are a number of different types of institutions to which you may be sent by the courts. People aged 18 years or over may be sent to prison.

A number of factors are taken into account including your age at the time of the court appearance, your character, the nature of the offence and the availability of a suitable place.

Major reforms to the detention of children are underway. There is information on the regulation of detention introduced by the Children Act 2001 in our document on children and the criminal justice system.


The institutions in which a child may be detained include the following:

Children detention schools

Former Industrial Schools and Reformatory Schools are now called children detention schools and are managed by the Irish Youth Justice Service which is part of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. There are 3 children detention schools which are considered suitable to detain remanded and committed children. They are:

  • Oberstown Boys School
  • Oberstown Girls School
  • Trinity House School

Only boys under age 17 and girls under age 18 at the time of being remanded or committed by the courts can be remanded in child detention schools.

Places of Detention

Places of detention were for male offenders aged 16 and 21 who were sent there instead of prison. The main place of detention has been St. Patrick's Institution, which was formally known as Borstal and took male offenders between the ages of 16 and 21 years.

A new national children detention facility for children under the age of 18 is being developed at Oberstown. Since May 2012 all newly remanded or sentenced 16-year olds are detained in Oberstown.

Boys aged 17 on remand have been detained in St. Patrick’s Institution. Sentenced 17-year-olds have been detained in Wheatfield Place of Detention.

Since 30 March 2015, newly remanded 17-year-olds can be detained in Oberstown. All detained 17-year-olds will transfer to Oberstown in 2015.

Page edited: 9 April 2015



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If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.